Daily Horoscope: Polaris Software- A Critical Analysis.

Posted on August 23, 2010. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Irony in the Title, Random, Science |

Note From George: Many of you already know that for the last several days I have been wading into the astrology debate over at Jason’s blog, Lousy Canuck.

During the original debate, we were invited by Jamie Funk to join in on the discussion at his astrology blog where I first encountered James Alexander and his brief explanation of Polaris; a computer software developed for “rectification”.  James has now joined the debate on Jason’s blog, and has once again brought up Polaris as evidence of astrology’s ability to make falsifiable predictions.  During this debate, I have offered James the opportunity to test Polaris as a proof of astrology and he seems genuinely interested in putting it to task.  In the interests of giving a fair shake to James, I would like to give him the opportunity to guest post his own interpretation of Polaris, which I will not edit save a disclaimer that the views are his, and post it on my site.  I welcome his comments about my interpretation, which I am offering here.  I would forewarn readers that this is a 4000 word post with no jokes and little pointed language, and will likely be a tl;dr for anyone not interested by astrology or with vested interest in our ongoing discussion.  Feel free to read my Summary  just above the fold to get a brief overview of this post.  Unless you are James.  Then you should read it and explain in some detail what parts are factually wrong, as well as proofread it for spelling and grammar.  (that’s my only joke folks, you have been warned)  All quotes or information attributed to James is available at the Polaris link or in comments on my blog and Lousy Canuck.  I will be happy to clarify the source upon request.

Jason has offered to post on his blog the parameters and eventual results of this test of Polaris on his site, once James and I have agreed on terms and begun the test.


  • Rectification can cause “warm readings” as opposed to “cold readings”, the potential for non-astrologically gained information and/or the discounting of information should be considered as fostering confirmation bias.
  • It is feasible to create a PRNG (Pseudo-Random Number Generator) that would perform better than chance without the aid of astrology.
  • The odds quoted by James are fundamentally flawed
  • Many of his corollary statements are misdirecting, flawed or incorrect
  • By widening the scope of what would pass for a “hit” for Polaris, the odds of the “uncanny” become far better.
  • Polaris is deserving of a test in spite of my basic criticisms

Polaris Software:Rectification, Probabilities, and The Nature Of Not Being Random-  A Critical Analysis.

What is Polaris? What is Rectification?

Polaris is a rectification software developed by Isaac Starkman, using the methods of the late astrologer and researcher Alexander Marr.  It seeks to use a logarithmic equation to weigh potential birth times as being more or less likely based on a point scale, using supplied events of importance from the subject’s life.

Some astrologers believe rectification to be an important process in giving clients a proper astrological reading.  The belief is that many people are unsure of the exact time of birth and therefor their chart will be skewed by insufficient or improper data.  Rectification seeks to correct this error by calculating a probable “real” birth time by weighing the probability of past  known events against a list of possible birth times using astrological methods.

Rectification, in relation to Polaris, is a process where a person’s birth time is calculated (rectified) by a computer program with the aid of additional important dates in that person’s life.  The subject need only give their birth date, hopefully a rough idea of the time of birth, and as many dates of importance from their life as possible and the program goes to work calculating the “real” birth time, even to the second.

James has offered us a list of some of the events in your life the program considers.

From James’ comment at Lousy Canuck:

Below is a list of the types (categories, if you will) of events that can help in the rectification process with Polaris:

1 Birth of Brother

2 Birth of Sister

3 Birth of Son

4 Birth of Daughter

5 Birth of Grandson

6 Birth of Granddaughter

7 Marriage/Engagement/Love-affair (for a M)

8 Marriage/Engagement/Love-affair (for a F)

9 Marriage of Son/Daughter

10 Divorce/Separation

11 Death of Father/Grandfather

12 Death of Mother/Grandmother

13 Death of Son

14 Death of Daughter

15 Death of Wife/Friend

16 Death of Husband/Friend

17 Death of Brother

18 Death of Sister

19 Death

20 Assassination/Suicide

21 Success/Elected

22 Promotion/Job

23 Failure

24 Resignation/Retirement

25 Travel Overseas (positive)

26 Travel (positive)

27 Travel (negative)

28 Mobilization (Military)

29 Demobilization/Release (Leave Military/Prison)

30 Arrest

31 Accident

32 Hospitalization/Illness

33 Violence

34 Intrigue

35 Losses

36 Gambling Losses

37 Gambling Gains

38 Graduation/Publication

39 Moving

40 Promotion Army

Confirmation Bias And The Need To Be Critical

James admits that many people do not have an exact birth time, or that the real birth time is rounded to the nearest fifteen minute interval and this is part of the need for good rectification software. I have given an example of this software in action (which I pulled directly from an article authored by James) in my last post.  I will be using it as an example again later in this post.

I do have some logical concerns with the claims made by James in regards to Polaris; chief among them is the issue of confirmation bias.  I hope it is safe to assume that the vast majority of people seeking a rectification already have astrological leanings. Based on this fact, they are already primed to accept a different birth time than the one that is on their birth certificate. This is certainly true for James’ case study in the article he posted that I have linked to above.  In this case, the “very delightful lady” was given a birth time that was “over 20 minutes difference from the time given on the birth certificate” (bold by the original author).

James has already conceded that many people do not even have an inclining of their birth time.  For these people, any time Polaris calculates must seem correct.  Even if we take James’ estimate that most people’s birth times are rounded by hospital staff to the nearest fifteen minute interval, then the possibilities for “hits” on recorded birth times greatly increases.  So the credulity of the person having a rectification is certainly going to be a factor in whether or not they accept the software over documentation, where available.

There is also a concern that the information given for the rectification would surely give an astrologer more information with which to create an uncanny reading that will only serve to amplify the confirmation bias.  Having a wealth of additional information, an astrologer may be willing to discount things in a reading that do not correlate with these newly learned events.  Conversely, the astrologer might be inclined to add information or interpret the information differently in light of these known facts.  In effect, the client has turned what might be a “cold reading” into a “warm reading” by supplying the astrologer with additional information.  As I have said elsewhere, it would even be degrees easier to extrapolate predictions of future events given a talented “people-reader” and a known history from which to draw information.  My fear is that the astrological reading then becomes an exercise in astute observation of a person and not of their charts.

In order to scrutinize the software then, we must subject it to a test where confirmation bias is not present.

James has indicated that it is the shear uncanny nature of the odds involved that has convinced him of the efficacy of Polaris and the truth of astrology.  If the information James has given me is even partially correct, Polaris does appear to have some merit for study.  Chief among James’ claims are that Polaris is consistently exact or within a negligible margin, that Polaris is consistently beating odds of 1:1440, and that these observations cannot be explained away by a “random time generator”.

Not Random, Not Exact, And Not Equal

Polaris is not a “random time generator”.  At no time during my conversation with him have I or anyone else said it was.  Polaris, at worst, contains a pseudo-random number generator;  given the same information it will always arrive at the same time.  Given the same important dates but two different constraints to weigh potential birth times, Polaris should also give the same “peak value” to numbers contained in both sets.  There is no magic in a birth time that is present in both sets floating to the top of both lists.

I would argue that given enough data a programmer could create a PRNG that performs better than chance at arriving at birth times without the aid of astrology.  James’ claim that the odds in a 24 search for a potential birth time is always 1:1440 is likely not accurate.  The fact that times might be negligibly close to the recorded time and still considered a hit changes those odds drastically.  If we expand the window to just three minutes either side of a recorded birth time, the odds become approximately 1:206.  James has implied in comments that he would consider an inexact match within a small margin to be a “hit” for his software.  Depending on the margin we can agree is negligible, we will soon see that odds are always better than 1:1440.

Yet even this calculation takes at face value the fact that each potential birth time has an equal probability.  Given that we are dealing with a process of the human body, it is reasonable to believe that births are more common during certain hours in a day.  Human rhythms and schedules would surely make some birth times more common than others.  This change in probability means that each of the 1440 minutes in consideration does not have an equal value as a potential birth time.  Now combine this with another piece of information offered by James.  In a comment, James said that it is quite common for hospitals to round birth times to the nearest 5 or 10 minute interval, and he offered as proof a database that shows that those times are much more common than the times between these numbers.  An astutely designed PNRG then could take advantage of this information to always perform better than chance.

Given these facts as a prism with which to view calculated odds, let’s now take a closer look at some of James’ specific examples.    James is quite proficient at math I’m sure, he admits to even winning a “1st place Illinois State Mathematics Award”.  I am impressed by his ability to use numbers, I just believe he is stacking the numbers in his favor.  I would like to discuss a few times where James has quoted probabilities as well as dissect the probabilities of the few documented examples he has given.  For the sake of offering comparable odds, in each of the following examples I will assume that each potential birth time has an equal probability even if this is no the case.

By The Numbers: Dissecting The Examples Given By James

James gives us an example of his program at work in the article he wrote outlining Polaris software. I have already briefly discussed this in my last post, which James has said is wrong, so it bears some repeating and analysis of how I arrive at my numbers:

A very delightful lady had a birth certificate time (8:15 PM CWT), but was skeptical as to its accuracy as it appeared rounded off. Since her Ascendant changed signs close to that time, she wanted to be sure. Using the birth certificate time, she had Sagittarius 29° 32’ rising.  A birth time two minutes later would have given Capricorn rising.

She sent me over 40 events from her life, mostly with exact dates. I took 38 of these events (the ones where the dates were most accurately known) and entered each of them into Polaris. I gave the software a search range of an hour on either side of the supposed birthtime. This entering of events goes quite quickly. In about a minute (time dependent on computer speed), Polaris examined every 8 seconds in birthtime throughout the range and gave the following table:

James Alexander sample rectification with Polaris

Possible birth times are sorted by the weighted score (as shown here), with the highest score on this particular list, 994, indicating the most likely time and the lowest score, 775 indicating the least likely.  In this example, we can see that 0:52:52 UT is the most likely birthtime, over 20 minutes difference from the time given on the birth certificate, and clearly indicating Sagittarius rising as correct!

The letters A-E are breakdowns of Polaris’ findings. We can see that the indicated time is the highest value, not only in T, but also in A, B, C, and E. We must cross-check ANY findings through Polaris with other dynamic systems. Checking in one system is never enough.

In this example, James clearly documents his parameters used as possible birth times.  He says that he used 8 second intervals over a period of an hour on either side of her recorded birth time.  Given that this client received a birth time roughly 22 minutes divergent from her birth time, what are the odds that this would happen?

-There are 900 choices available to the program (7.5 per min x 120 minutes= 900)

-There are 330 choices available during a 22 minute span either side (44 x 7.5=330)

– So if this is subject to the same “odds” James applies to more uncanny examples the odds rest at just a bit better than 1 in 3.

My previous dissection of this example showed that for someone who may find a ten minute window from the recorded birth time uncanny the odds were 1 in 6.  But what if it had of gotten the birth time to within one minute, or even creepier, to the exact minute?

The odds in this case are 1 in 40 that we should arrive at a number within just one minute divergent and 1 in 120 that we should arrive at the exact time.  These are impressive odds, but certainly seem like better odds than James likes to cite.

To be fair, James never cites odds for this example, except in a roundabout way at the end.  To quote him:

By the way, if we had run this rectification without having any idea of the time (that is, with a search range of the whole birth day), it gives the correct time as the 2nd entry, which is impressive considering Polaris examined 10,800 moments in time.

This is mildly misdirecting the reader.  The odds are still stacked against the program, but the program only really had to examine 9,900 moments in time, remembering that it’s logarithm had already discounted 899 other numbers as having less probability than the first choice.  If Polaris’ agreed birth time is rated number 2 after this second assessment, then it should also count as a potential strike against the program for someone with absolutely no idea of their recorded birth time; the best weighted time is not necessarily the right one.  Odds that Polaris should rank the first rectified time as #2 on a second 24 hour test: 1in 4950….if this were a random number generator. The trick here is that the second time around you have already found one number in the set with a relatively high peak value.  The odds are actually greater that this number should not end up quite high on the list. If you cast you attention to the chart provided by Mr. Alexander, you see that the “winning” birth time has a “peak value” of 994, while the second highest choice has a value of 862.  If there is a 132 point difference between choice #1 and choice #2 and you plug the numbers back into an expanded set in the same logarithm, what do you want to bet that the original choice will float relatively near the top of the pile?  So our “odds” in this case are heavily skewed in favor of the time that has a very high peak value.

The actual odds escape my ability to derive a probability, but I can safely assume that it is far better than 1 in 25.

In all fairness to James, I chose an example where I knew the odds were far better than he would let on, and the subject of the rectification in this case was willing to accept a birth time that was relatively divergent from the recorded one.  So what about a situation where Polaris got the time exactly to the certificate?   Surely the odds must be unbelievably stacked against this.

To state the question succinctly in James’ own words:

You still have not explained HOW the program can EVER give the correct birthtime, based on events from someone’s life. (Remember that chance levels say that this should happen ONCE in every 1,440 attempts.)

From an anecdote that James provided on the astrology thread:

A very nice lady gave me eleven events, including births of two brothers, deaths of grandparents, an illness… She told me that she was born (according to her Mother) between 10:30 and 11 am. I did the rectification and it is normal in these circumstances, to expand the “believed” timeframe, to make sure that the actual birthtime isn’t just outside the perceived range and thereby missed. The time that I came up with (ie. Polaris), 10:26:14, was before the range that she had given. When she came for our discussion about her life, she apologized that she had given me the wrong time range and said, “I found my paperwork, I was born 4 minutes before the time range I gave you.”

This was not a search out of 24 hours, because she had a believed timerange, which I slightly expanded in order to be sure the actual time was included.

In the hour and a half search, the correct birthtime was the highest “peak” on the list. In a 24 hour search that I just ran with the same data, the correct birthtime is number 2. Considering that the program looked at 10,800 moments in time, this is phenomenal performance. (BOLD is mine)

Disregarding the obvious similarities between the previous story and this one, there are some major differences.  Polaris gave an exact birth time to match the paperwork.  But are the odds really 1 in 1440?

To calculate this, I am going to assume that James went by 8 second intervals just as he did in the first example, and just as he does when he “re-plugs” the “winning time” into a 24 hour cycle in the last paragraph of this example.

With an hour and a half search frame he mentions, there are 675 possible birth times to consider.(7.5 x 90)

For Polaris to stumble across the exact time would be odds of 1 in 90 (7 or 8 numbers in that exact minute out of 675 possible choices).

So our odds here, where someone eventually did verify Polaris’ findings, are 1:90.  So I believe I have explained how it is possible for the odds to be better than 1 in 1440.   I would argue that the astrologer’s confirmation bias in this case led them to imagine greater odds than were actually against a “hit”.  I also postulate that the other 4 times James has had this happen, the odds were far better than he imagines.  They are still phenomenal odds.  I just question why one has to puff up their odds to make their case.

As an aside, the same criticism I made earlier of the second 24 hour test is the same here.  If you already have a number with a high peak value, and you use the same logarithm a second time, that number should still rise to very near the top of the list.  I would be more impressed if it did not, so this is hardly proof of “phenomenal performance”.

I am assuming from James’ penchant for inflating statistics that the previous example counts as one of his 5 direct hits for Polaris.  Even if this is the only example of the five where it arrived at the right time with odds better than 1:1440, it drastically changes the odds he states of 1: 6,191,736,400,000,000.  If every other time this happened, he arrived at the answer with 1:1440 odds, then the actual probability is 1:386,983,521,000,000. That means he is off by a hell of a lot.  I am not, however, so confident that the odds were always 1:1440 given his track record with statistics, and if we assume that 3 of the 5 were 1:90 odds and 2 were 1:1440 odds then the actual probability is 1:1,511,654,400,000.  Now we are talking about puffing up odds by degrees.  What if all the 5 were arrived at by the method he used in example 1 and 2?  Let’s for the sake of his pride say that the average odds were more like 1:120, like the first example.  Now the odds are 1:24,883,200,000.

You can see how changing the odds to values he has evidenced are more likely can really change the probability, even if the new probabilities are still astronomical.  Are they really astronomical though?  James has said that he has performed 100 or so rectifications.  If we discount just half of these and assume no birth time was available, his program would now be arriving at the right time only once out of every 10 tries.  At 1:120 odds that the program will arrive at the right time any one time, I calculate the odds that it would be correct to the minute just 1:248,832.

That is a calculation for 5 direct “to the minute” hits out of 50 tries with a search range of an hour either side for each try, assuming again that each potential time in the cycle has an equal probability.

George, you say, what about his “crown jewel”, the rectification that was performed on Ken Haining?  Honestly, I don’t have an easy answer for that one.  It doesn’t surprise me that this is also the example that James offers the least specifics of his methods.  Only that the odds were 1:1440.  I am forced to assume the best, that he was looking for a number to the minute in a 24 hour cycle from the start.  If he was not, if he chose that number out of a 2 hour or 1 ½ hour cycle, then plugged it into a 24 hour cycle to test it; I will leave it to the reader to interpret the true odds.  Why Polaris makes the “correct time” #2 in our previous 2 examples of a 24 hour search and #1 in this one is also a mystery.

He also talks about the odds of splitting the events into two groups and separately arriving at the same time.  It is again quite impressive, especially if he is working in a 24 hour cycle.  I can’t say for sure that he is.  In a situation where two different 6 event sets each arrive at the same birth time as the full 12 considered together, I don’t think the odds are again as improbable as he lets on.  I can’t personally prove this statement with my limited math skills, but I can imagine that each event is given a value at each moment in the cycle that the program is asked to consider; and this number is fixed by the logarithm built into Polaris.   Given this, the probability is better than chance that two groups of six will arrive at the same number because the logarithm is not randomly assigning values to each event.  The assumption here is that each event should have a higher than average value at the rectified birth time.  A group of any six of these events should then have a relatively good probability of arriving at the same time, and a very good probability of having perhaps 2 or 3 times in common in any list of the 5 best choices.

So Where Does This Leave Polaris?

I do not wish to dismiss the apparent slim odds that his program seems to overcome.  However, I have given examples of how these apparent “astronomical odds” might be far less impressive than any of us imagine.  I have also shown that it might be wrong to assume that any given rectified time has an equal probability.   I would consider 1:90 odds to be long odds in their own right, yet if we combine that calculation with the greater likelihood of certain times it further reduces the “uncanny” nature of arriving at a negligibly different time than the recorded one.

I take issue, however, with his gross overestimate of the odds against his program.   There is no reason short of being ignorant or purposefully misdirecting to change the probabilities in this way.  The only time Polaris could face odds of 1:1440 would be in a 24 hour search with each potential time afforded equal possibility.  I am sure this is not the case, and I am sure that James does not believe this to be the case either-even if for very different reasons.  He has offered more than one example where he did not plug his information into a 24 hour cycle, and I believe it is logical to conclude that this is the rule rather than the exception.   If his anecdotal evidence is true, however, then most certainly Polaris shows promise as a potential positive evidence for astronomy.

I am sure James will find much to take issue with in this summary, yet I believe I have given an answer to many of his pointed questions.  I have explained how, given the information James has himself provided us, the odds of arriving at an exact birth time might be better than 1:1440.  I have explained how his calculations of odds on more than one occasion appear to be misleading.  Most pointedly, I have shown that he seems just as content with a time that is 22 minutes divergent from the recorded time as he is with an exact match.

James never explains to us why his “direct hits”, those 5 times that the program got it just right, should have so much weight given that he himself claims that there “are many, many times that are rounded off, estimated, and improperly recorded.” It would stand to reason that those 5 times have an equal likelihood of being correct on paper compared to, let’s say, the “very delightful lady” who was 22 minutes divergent from Example 1.  He never tells us how many of the 100 or so customers he has performed rectification on had documentation that contradicted Polaris.

There is likewise no explanation as to why, when he has offered specifics and my calculations have shown his odds to be inflated, the second 24 hour calculation has resulted in a 2nd place ranking for his assumed “real” birth time in light of his assertion that a strict 24 hour calculation for Ken results in a 1st place ranking for his known birth time.

In light of these considerations, I find James’ claim that Polaris is a useful and precise tool to be lacking, yet the uncanny nature of some of his anecdotes shows some promise.  I hope that we might be able to address these obvious shortcomings in our ongoing conversation as well as during the testing period.


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29 Responses to “Daily Horoscope: Polaris Software- A Critical Analysis.”

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[…] Note From George: There is a more lengthy criticism of Polaris in my follow up post Daily Horoscope: Polaris Software- A Critical Analysis. […]

There’s no time in the moment to respond to your lengthy (and mostly unnecessary) post.

There are two points that stand out as needing immediate response.

You are attributing motive to my simple stating of a mathematical formula. I feel that you are struggling on this point, so please allow me the moment to make two important mathematical points that I think will enhance your understanding of what is going on here.

1. In those cases, (since each rectification is obviously mutually exclusive of every other one), where Polaris leads us to the correct minute, is 1/1440 odds. (there are 1440 possible minutes in the day, so in a 24 hr search, those ARE the odds – I have been clear on that

2. Because those ARE the odds, then in order for simple CHANCE to be operating, (follow this) FOR EVERY CORRECT MINUTE FOUND BY POLARIS, I SHOULD HAVE TO HAVE DONE 1439 THAT WERE WRONG!

I’ll respond more when I have a bit more time. We’re really not on the same page, in several ways. Still, I am very confident that Polaris will impress you.

For the record. I’m not really the type to bluff.



I agree that in a 24 hour search where Polaris comes across the EXACT time of birth the odds are 1:1440, assuming that the odds that ANY one minute in a 24 hour cycle has a 1:1440 chance of being correct. I conceded that very fact on more than one occasion in this post. I also noted that in two distinct examples you did not search a 24 hour cycle, so the odds are far better in a shorter time span. You seem to try a second time with a 24 hour search and seem convinced that a second place finish is good enough for the rectified birthtime. You even consider it statistically significant even though a strongly weighted time should ALWAYS appear high on a second check.
IF every test you performed was over a 24 hour cycle and IF you only accepted the #1 choice the program gave you and IF there are no times in a day with a statistically higher likelihood of being correct THEN the odds are 1:1440. You have shown no track record in action or in word to indicate that ANY of those “IF” statements are regularly satisfied or correct.
Based on this, there are as Jason said almost 1:1 odds that you will arrive at an answer you think is right and as I have said 1:90 odds or better that you will get an exact match using the methods you yourself describe on more than one occasion. By your own logic you would only need to do 89 rectifications using this method to stumble across an exact match. You yourself have said that many tests have been “very, very close to the documented time, ie. the documented time is not too far off” implying that a time close to the documented time is acceptable.
I still concede that the program is worthy of proper study and consideration, I just think you embellish the odds, as we all do when faced with the “uncanny”.

Yes, but you are still missing the point. When Polaris ONE TIME finds the “correct” minute in a 24 hour search, then for it to be operating AT CHANCE LEVELS, means that there HAD to be 1439 failures. Anything LESS than 1439, MEANS DIRECTLY THAT IT PERFORMS BETTER THAN CHANCE.

Think of rolling a die. There are 6 possible numbers that can come up. It should be (hopefully) easily seen that the odds of any PARTICULAR number coming up is 1 in 6 or about 17% (16.666…%)

Now, if you say to me that you can call numbers on the rolled die BETTER THAN CHANCE, then as long as you have ANY more than ONE success per 5 failures, you have succeeded. This should be obvious whether your math skills are up to par or not.

It is the same with Polaris, the odds in a 24 hour search of Polaris giving as its best answer, THE CORRECT ONE, is 1/1440, as you have agreed. I am saying that for Polaris to operating at chance levels, then for that 1 success (there are others, but we’re talking about the ONE), there HAVE to 1439 failures OR IT IS PERFORMING BETTER THAN CHANCE LEVELS.

In order for you to prove that it is performing LESS than chance levels, for EVERY SINGLE case that Polaris finds the correct minute in a 24 hour search, you would have to (by implication) be stating that there were 1439 failures for EACH correct one.

As there are several cases where Polaris goes right to the documented minute and I have done UNDER 100 rectifications, there is logically only one deduction to make and that is that the program (with FIVE correct ones out of <100 tries) is performing AT LEAST to 5%. Chance says it should be performing 0.07%

You can (and probably will) argue eight ways to Sunday, but you can't circumnavigate that fact, it is ALREADY performing better than 70 times chance levels.

For an analysis of appropriate astrological aspects (how Polaris works) to lead to that 1 minute out of 1440 (without 1439 failures also riding along), better than chance, shows that THE CONNECTION OF EVENTS IN THE LIFE TO THE APPROPRIATE ASTROLOGY ALLOWS THE SOFTWARE TO BEAT THE ODDS.

Figure out a way to get verifiable data to test the program with?

I would like to circumnavigate this mostly friendly circle jerk with a nice demonstration that you won't be able to try and argue away by not understanding the mathematical implications…



I preface this by saying, again, I am not a math wonk. However, I am interested in that the program offers multiple guesses at times for any given set of events and time frame, and the astrologer is free to pick any of them from amongst the “peak times” with impunity. The odds of picking one time out of a 24 hour period at complete random is 1/1440. The odds of picking one time out of a two hour period, when multiple times are selected, and the “exact time” can be the second or third choice, is significantly lower. You’re changing the time frame selected from, and you’re expanding the windows wherein hits can happen. You’re also allowing for your next-best guesses to be the “correct” ones even if there are better matches that are well off the chosen time. If you pick from only a select subset of possible times, then you’re only going to get the peaks within those times, and you’re free to select the one that diverges the least from the birth time and has the highest subjective value number from amongst the peaks. So your odds are 1:1 in picking a time that suits the reading from every single run of the program. That’s your real odds. Especially if you care so little about the given time of 8:15 that you’re willing to pick 7:52, because that means you would have been equally amenable to picking 8:38 if it had a high enough peak. That expands your window for finding a timeframe sometime between 7:52 and 8:38.

Knowing that, timewise, people are much more psychologically likely to pick a time rounded backward when dealing with past events with fuzzy boundaries for when they happened, it’s more likely she was born at 8:19 than 7:52.

The fact that we don’t have a time machine to determine with 100% accuracy when she was born means you can pretty much get away with saying whatever you want. Especially given that the “moment of birth” could be when the child fully left the birth canal, or it could be when the doctor cut the umbilical cord, or it could be when the child took its first breath, depending on who was doing the timekeeping. That determination is not exactly set in stone either.

And all of this is orthogonal to the fact that your genetic code is shuffled at the moment of conception, and the moment of birth is merely the first moment in time when you’re no longer protected in your mother’s belly. You’re actually a viable human being for a short time before natural childbirth, as evidenced by babies born prematurely who survive.

What was that?

You’ve gone very far afield.

I said that Polaris uses Astrology to find the time that someone is born. This is something that can (and if you guys figure out how to find some verified data, WILL) be demonstrated.

Your saying that someone is born AROUND the birth certificate time and not necessarily right on it, supports my case more than yours, in this instance.

Here are some rectifications, from Polaris, just for your understanding…

For Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis, her birthtime is 14:30 EDT or 18:30 UT. (Polaris always works in Universal Time) Using 21 major events, Polaris’ RAW SCORE finds the correct time as #4 (not some time around the correct time, but THE CORRECT TIME). If we use the highest T, refined by largest A & B numbers (the normal method of working with this program), then the correct time is #1.

Let’s look at Sylvia Plath. Her birthtime is 19:10 UT (14:10 EST). Using 17 major events, the correct time is #6 in a 24 hour search. If we search 9 hours (ie. 540 minutes), the correct time is #1. Now, we had 540 separate minutes that COULD have been spit out by Polaris (ie. the odds in this search are 1/540), HOWEVER, Polaris takes us right to the correct birth minute USING NOTHING BUT THE APPROPRIATENESS OF ASTROLOGICAL ASPECTS TO THE EVENTS GIVEN.

Now, please… give me a mechanism that could allow this to happen WITHOUT Astrology.



I believe you are the one not understanding. I have never said that Polaris does not perform better than chance. I really don’t know where that allegation comes from. I have said that I would hope it performs better than chance in any eventual test. Even if we both accept (and I know you will not) that the odds are far better than 1:1440 MOST of the time you are using the program (ie. 9 hour search period, 1 1/2 hour search period), Polaris still anecdotally performs far better than chance. I am not arguing that it dos not have an impressive track record as you explain it.
I am saying that your continual pleading to accept odds of 1:1440 in spite of now giving me 3 examples of applications where you clearly did not use a 24 hour cycle to get an answer seems suspect. Call it the “chink in your armor”, to use a clever analogy. I don’t wish to argue over odds till we’re blue in the face. If you can show a fault in my math in the post then show it. If you can’t then we can both assume that we are arguing two sides of the same coin. You have a vested interest in seeing the odds as slim as possible, and I would like to see them as favorable as possible. Neither of us is wrong, we just like to hone in on our best examples.

Yes, in some of the examples, the search range was less than 24 hours. Yes, I agree the odds (in those cases) are LESS than 1/1440.

My point was, IN A 24 HOUR SEARCH, the odds are exactly 1/1440 of finding the same minute as documented.

Since you agree with THAT particular case, ie. that the odds are correct, then I want to directly state that the fact that I haven’t done 1439 rectifications where it doesn’t work, that that automatically means performing better than chance.

Now, as for how much better than chance it performs, I think you are going to be surprised.

We still have the problem of verified event dates. I have thought and thought on this problem and can’t think of an efficacious way to submit those dates, somehow documented, without later there somehow being the implication that it wasn’t actually Polaris that led me to the birthtime.

Still, if we can get this test to work, I think you will be amazed.

Now, there is still one other wrinkle, which is HOW CLOSE is enough to call it a hit? I mean in your current thinking, what to you constitutes that “Yes, Polaris seems to have found the birthtime.” The reason it is important is that, having done a number of these AND by deductive reasoning from the data at AstroDatabank, it is OBVIOUS that MOST birthtimes are CLOSE to the birthtime, but USUALLY are a few minutes off.

Again, logically, if a disproportionate number of recorded birthtimes show up at the 15 min intervals, it can only be the case that the birthtimes were rounded FROM THE ACTUAL TIME.

From experience, the average amount of time that recorded birthtimes have been off has been more than 10 mins of time. Earlier astrologers had much larger timeframes. The great Charles Jayne did a survey and the AVERAGE amount of time that recorded birthtimes were in error was over 30 mins. (those were earlier times, so the general case only shows up OCCASIONALLY presently)

Personally, if the birthtime IS recorded correctly (a big IF), then I believe that Polaris can help ME to get within a minute or two of the right time. The problem is…we don’t know ahead of time how much error is involved.

If someone were there (at the birth) with nothing to do but watch the time (as in the birth of my SIX kids), then it would be pretty much dead on accurate. As it is, we are trying to guesstimate a possible error with NO idea of the level of error.

I know from my sister being a registered nurse that the birthtime is often a RECOLLECTION of the time FROM THE MOMENT THE PAPERWORK IS FILLED OUT. Obviously, the Astrology lines up with the birth, not with some artificial document.

HOWEVER, I still think that Polaris’ performance will be strong enough to COMPLETELY change your skeptic stance on the “stars” because finding a birthtime (using only astrological correspondences) MEANS that, if the time was found, then the Astrology had to work.



I am currently searching for 3 individuals who have documented birth times. It may take a few days to find people. I have only an anecdotal time for myself (my mom says she knows for sure) but I understand that this would not satisfy a test. My hope is to get three individuals of different ages, hopefully with at least 15 reference points from your list for each. Do you need to know place of birth? How specific do the reference points have to be? (ex. Travel-positive; do you need to know where and why?)
Please tell me how best to collect this information to give Polaris the best possible shot.

Hello George,

Thanks for the questions up front. 😉

Really, what I need are the birth date (month, day, and year) and place. For the events, I don’t really need additional data, though if one’s reaction was totally different that normally expected, then it would help in terms of seeing the right symbolism. As an example, usually the death of Father is a very traumatic time…often sudden and usually very emotional. If the Father had been sick and in a lot of pain for months before passing, the death might be more of a relief than a tragedy…and normally, the Astrology shows it clearly.

As for the events, themselves, the main thing is the “category” of the event (as per the list…so that it is the correct event). Also, important is that the date is correct. Being off by a day won’t wreck the system at all, but knowing that your Father died in the last half of February and ARBITRARILY giving me the date Feb 21, 2003 WILL cause me problems. (hence the reason for needing verifiable dates) Without that…there’s not really a test, since there is no way to VERIFY that it was scientifically conducted.

Again, thanks for the forethought to do this correctly, so as not to waste BOTH our time with this.



I’m the performer of Polaris and would like to add some points:
1. James specified that at least 25 events are needed for a rectification with search range of 24 hours, you mentioned 15 events. In fact, 30 events are the minimum required, 35 events is of course better. It is possible to get to the right time when using only 25 events but it is more difficult and time consuming. Working with only 15 events, no matter how important they, are good only for search range of 2- 3 hours- no more. That means that you have to find out someone old enough who have several birth in the family (siblings, children, grandchildren), several death (parents, grandparent, close friend) etc.
2. If the person is used to fly every several months- these flies couldn’t be consider as important events.
3. Moving- you have to add if the moving home was under positive or negative circumstances.
4. You said: “If we expand the window to just three minutes either side of a recorded birth time, the odds become approximately 1:206”
Isn’t should be 1:240 (1440: 6)?
5. If, for example, we will perform the rectification for 3 cases and the results will be:
A. A diversion of 20 minutes from the Birth Certificate- the odds 1:36
B. A diversion of 25 minutes- odds 1:29
C. A diversion of 18 minutes- odds 1:40
The total odds is 1: 41,760
Correct? Acceptable?

I am more than happy to find individuals with a greater number of significant events. The whole reason I posted that update was to get feedback from James as to what information he would require to perform a fair test of your software. If 30 is required, then 30 he will get. If 30 is not possible in all 3 cases, then James and I will have to agree on an outcome from Polaris that would be statistically significant. I am genuinely interested in testing this program. I am delighted that you have taken the time to give your personal input.
As to my calculation of an expanded window of 3 minutes either side, you will note that a “hit” could occur by choosing a number in the three minutes preceding, the three minutes after, as well as the exact minute, for a total of seven possible minutes. (1440:7)
I include the exact minute as it is still contained in the set of numbers we would now find uncanny, though I agree that the exact time would be MUCH more uncanny than any other time in that set. It still must be included as it is part of the set of times that are considered a “hit”.
To your final calculation, I don’t like your multiplication of odds. It is misleading and gives us odds that appear to imply more statistical significance than there in fact is. In fact, if you go by this logic then you could argue that out of 40 tries, arriving at a time that is 8 hours divergent 10 times, a time 6 hours divergent 10 times, 12 hours 10 times and just 1 hour out 10 times would give you odds of 1:4 x 10^27. That seems like long odds, yet it means absolutely nothing, as the program has not performed well at all. Where you go wrong I think is that you need to take this number and divide it by all answers that were different but more significant. I have a math guru friend who I will ask about this so that I can clarify your odds. Perhaps you are right, but I find it illogical.

I just wanted to comment that Isaac is, in fact, the author of the software.

Also, I arrived at the same probability numbers as he posted.

As they ARE mutually exclusive, it is simply a matter of multiplying the individual probabilities in order to calculate the probabilities of ALL happening.

This can be seen more obviously with a coin. If you flip it three times, we can have:


So, for say H-H-H to happen is a 1 in 8 probability.

The probability of EACH toss being heads is 1/2. The probability of THREE heads is 1/2 * 1/2 * 1/2, again, 1/8.

Additionally, Isaac’s presented method of calculating the Test Performance odds is fair, since it is mathematically sound.



[…] and Marina, and there was a sidebar on rectification astrology by James Alexander, whom George W is dealing with elsewhere, so not all the 230 comments came from that […]

Hi George,
I still think that my calculations of the odds are correct but as I’m not an expert statistician, let’s wait for your guru’s answer. We can also consult with:
1. Ken Gilman- an astrologer and professional statistician,
2. Geoffrey Dean that Jason mentioned
Theoretically, Polaris can find the birth time with an accuracy of +/- 4 seconds, that means, the odds is 1: 10800 but of course, no one know the birth time with such an accuracy.
I absolutely agree with you that if in 40 tries, that were the results, then the program is a total failure. We have to fix a limit to the divergence to, say, 60 minutes. I wish it could be less but unfortunately the accuracy of the time on the birth certificate is far from being satisfied. In some cases it is accurate to the minute, but in most cases the divergence is 20 minutes and even more.

If the “allowable” time is +/- 60 mins, then for it to function three times, gives odds of 0.06% that chance could have done the same. Though the +/- 60 mins is wider than will likely be the case in the test, still, defeating 1727:1 odds seems (at least) INDICATIVE.



According to my calculation, in your example, the total odds is 1:3.655×10^15. Ask your guru.

In the last example, +/- 60 mins, it can be seen that individually, that is 1/12 probability. (ie. 2 hours out of the 24 that are in a day)

To do it three times would be 1/(12^3) or 1/12 * 1/12 * 1/12 = 1/1728.


Where are you George W.?

I think that he’s discussing probability theory with Einstein’s nemesis…

Do you want this done right or not? I’m having issues finding people with a large chunk of verifiable information. I need more time. I could slap together a half-ass test, but would that help anyone? Do you have any suggestions that might aid me in getting information?

No problem George, take your time. I’m aware that it is not easy at all to find someone who is old enough and is willing to cooperate and supply at least 30-35 events- certainly not an easy task. The website http://www.astro.com/astro-databank/Astro-Databank:Handbook_chapter_07
Gives the years when one can hope to find the birth time on the Birth Certificate for each state of US. This can help you.
I only like to know if you already consulted your math guru friend about the odds and if you agree that James and my calculations are correct.

cGeorge: any progress in collecting the data?

[…] argument with astrologers over at Lousy Canuck became the impetus for some cross posts as well as a challenge with James Alexander that has not yet come to fruition.  My commentary on the Wikileaks/Assange rape case finished off […]

I have studied astrology since 1978. My chart was rectified by Charles Jayne, considered one of the most astute astrologers in rectification in the last 100 years. He used Solar Arc Directions and his rectification has been nothing short of amazing at identifying directions to events post rectification. I have also communicated extensively with Rumen Kolev who is most likely the current authority on Primary Directions. He has translated most of the ancient manuscripts in this regard and is the current authority on Babylonian Astrology. I asked him about the Marr Rectification by Primary Topocentric Methods. His comment was that the system winds out to be statistically poor due to the huge number of directions generated. Astrology is as much an art as a science and from my experience since 1978, there is no other system that proves the existence of God better. My brother-in-law is of your bent claiming that statistics can show anytime as valid. My response is that after 35 years of experience looking at transits and directions from my birth chart is that one would need to go through those 35 years of experience to know what I am talking about, and that for me to argue the point with you is senseless without you having the same experience. He is a staunch Catholic as my sister is, and I dare say that while his belief in God stems much from faith, my belief in God’s existence is irrefutable within my mind, and that faith, other than in believing God is one concept or another is unnecessary in proving God’s existence. I recommend that you look at Rumen Kolev’s site at http://www.babylonianastrology.com/index.php to see his credentials and take on Primary Directions.

Best Wishes,
Ellis Gordon

I was really intrigued by the post. First of all thanks for putting it out there, but I don’t see any real investigation going on – aside from you egging on James Alexander to respond right here and right now(a little high school?) and picking at the odds numbers, where’s the real proof? The real proof would be FOR YOU(as the author of the post, you are the one who must take responsibility for your claims! Not putting it on others to “disprove” you!) to take ‘Delightful Lady’ birth data, and do the rectification manually (that’s what I would do, should I really wanted to disprove software’s data). I am intrigued about what Polaris actually does, what are the methods in it’s arsenal to do the rectification? Is it Primary Directions backed up by transits? So what I would do it work backwards(which is an organic method of rectification, I’m sorry if you disagree) and move the ascendant accordingly. What would be logical to do in a MANUAL rectification is take a good look at the chart and tie it up to the given events. Sometimes it can be very obvious, and I do think that working visually is best, because you go from the point-view of logic, rather than mathematical statistics. The Polaris software seems to apply “second by second”(very wasteful use of time, considering its time consuming anyways) in which case we are talking million of possibilities and warm readings! I cannot fathom the headache Polaris must encounter by having to analyze this much redundant data! I really hope that its creator has given it better tools to “zero in” to the closest moment in birth time – it really has its work cut out for it, and I must admit it seems like “too much”!. I am disappointed about this “so called review” because I don’t know the actual techniques this “reviewed” software is applying. What I can do from a stand point of astrologer, is to check its accuracy by using all the tools at my disposal: the definite advantage in my case is “seeing and understanding” the chart. I would never approach the chart in a “second-by-second” sequence. So my proposition is, why don’t we conduct a REAL REVIEW of the software’s accuracy, by doing rectification by hand(which can easily take me a week) and comparing it to the software’s results? And from that, to deduct peremptory judgement for this “miracle worker” software? This is the RIGHT method of verifying this software’s accuracy, not laughing at patent “statistics-analysis”.

Miss Angel:

Thanks for your comments.

I am a professional astrologer who, for nearly 40 years, has performed many natal chart rectifications by hand. After reading this above review by George W., I agree that the review is kind of like ‘the blind leading the blind.’ In that, only statistics are being analysed/regurgitated by George W. and few, if any, astrological references to the natal chart are being made.

Also, the ultimate test of a rectification is, does the client agree with their ascendant degree, rising sign, and the whole natal chart.

The last time that I checked, it’s NOT planet/sign driven astrology that we practice. but rather, people must validate the natal planets, tropical signs, aspects, etc,

Meanwhile, what to make of George W, is he really a trained astrologer at all, or just a skeptic – a professional doubter, so to speak, much like James Randi, who professes to be a professional skeptic and doubter of psychics and astrologers.

I would agree that the best test for Polaris is for a beta test involving a human astrologer who really knows their stuff and using the same data as Polaris “machine made” rectification, side by side.

Just one beta test isn’t enough, either. Perhaps several hundreds of tests. And, only then will we really know how effective Polaris is.

About James Alexander, I think that whatever comes out of his mouth supporting Polaris is questionable, since he has a known vested business interest in that product,

Better to have Polaris tried out by third party people who have no business ties to Isaac Starkman.

R.J. Smith (horarymaster)

“My chart was rectified by Charles Jayne, considered one of the most astute astrologers in rectification in the last 100 years. He used Solar Arc Directions and his rectification has been nothing short of amazing at identifying directions to events post rectification.”

Hello Ellis:

Thanks for those comments.

We all have heard of Mr. Jayne and respect his work.

The main problem is that Solar Arc technology doesn’t ALWAYS work !

Back in 2005, I had a rare analysis of my own natal chart by one of the world’s most foremost proponents of Solar Arcs, namely Noel Tyl.

Now, I never hand out my natal chart to anyone, as a rule, but Tyl persuaded me to have him do my own chart.

So I, the interpreter of close to 9,000 natal charts, agreed to having my own chart done by one of the world’s best.

I was very disappointed by the sloppiness and inaccuracy of Noel’s consultation.

Noel attempted to use SA’s as a way to impress me, but nothing did.

It was like, a man shooting a gun at close range and trying to murder me, and firing blanks, each time.

Needless to say, I was relieved ! LOL

For example, something with your parents happened to you at age 3. “No.”

Something else happened to you at age 6. And I replied: “No, Noel, nothing did.”

And then, a third reference was made, and nothing happened, either.

Finally, Noel had to stoop to some sun-sign garbage about myself, which obviously, I could not deny. The interpretation got better as time went on, but it still sucked.

I guess that what troubled me most was, my 14 year marriage broke up about 18 months after seeing Noel, but not a peep from Noel on my relationships or the marriage at all !

And I had other important personal problems, as well, but Noel did not bring it up, either,

Therefore, this must be proof that Solar Arcs don’t always work in the natal chart,

To be honest, I have found that Secondary progressions
work much better for me and then there are the regular transits.

Those (the regular transits) work splendid for many people, including myself, so you can rectify the chart at any time, but not always, the solar arcs.

The other way to rectify the natal chart is by using re-location charts around the world to prove certain events in one own life.

yours truly,


Hi RJ,

I’m not surprised Noel had so many misses. When one limits oneself to longitudinal solar arcs, that’s bound to happen.
Jayne also wrote about forward and converse solar arcs in declination and in right ascension. Ascendant arcs and vertical arcs, both forward and converse, also work well. So rectification can get quite laborious when one examines all the possible techniques.
Here’s a personal example. Ascendant Vertex aspects can signify the end of a relationship. While I was her caregiver, my mom passed when I had converse SA Ascendant parallel natal Vertex to the minute, almost to the second. I have other examples but you get the point.
Jayne was a sharp gentleman who didn’t quickly embrace a technique without testing it first.
I’ve also found secondary progressions work quite well.

Take care,


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